[ ! ] TN's JumpStart Foundry aligns with TechStars Net
By Milt Capps Updated 8:04 p.m.
JumpStart Foundry, the Solidus-led microfund and venture incubator based in Nashville, is aligning with TechStars, the celebrated Boulder, Colo.-based startup accelerator, in a new international network.
Through membership in the TechStars Network, as it happens, JumpStart Foundry is also associated with the Obama Administration's U.S.-only StartUP America Partnership, an entrepreneurship initiative also announced by The White House today. The White House initiative is co-funded by the Kansas City-based Kauffmann Foundation and by the Case Foundation, and is chaired by Steve Case, a co-founder of AOL. It is not clear when TechStars Network affiliates learned of the StartUP America tie-in.
The TechStars network includes JumpStart and other "credible mentorship programs" in the U.S. and in other nations, according to a TechStar release. JumpStart's focus is on healthcare, music and technology ventures, according to TechStars, although a JumpStart spokesman said yesterday JumpStart is properly described as focused on healthcare IT, social engagement technologies and data systems.
JumpStart Foundry Founder Vic Gatto told VNC this morning the TechStars relationship is "a big step forward for JumpStart in establishing ourselves as one of the top microfunds in the country, and its also the first of several steps we're going to take in 2011 -- and I expect to create great companies and to be judged on the success that we have."
Gatto also recently spearheaded formation of Venture Incite, an LLC he registered for Solidus in East Tennessee. The hybrid commercialization and startup accelerator will operate in alliance with Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL, emphasizing energy and computing); the Y-12 National Security Complex (nuclear and other "sensitive issues"); and, the University of Tennessee Research Foundation (UTRF), Gatto told VNC in an earlier interview. Among other things, UTRF is the parent of Genera Energy, the biofuels commercialization company.
Gatto earlier announced Solidus' participation in formation of Seed Hatchery, a startup incubator and mentoring program in Memphis; and, he previously told VNC he is exploring with Chattanooga entrepreneurs and investors the possibility of a Solidus-linked program in that city. Seed Hatchery's deadline for applications for mentorship and funding slots is Feb. 11, according to its website. In an earlier VNC interview, co-founder Eric Mathews said Seed Hatchery is recruiting mentors and firms to provide services to Seed Hatchery startups. Among mentors already enlisted are attorneys from Baker Donelson Bearman Caldwell & Berkowitz and Butler|Snow; Pittco Management, owned by AutoZone entrepreneur Pitt Hyde; and Jan Bouten, a partner in Innova Memphis.
Solidus, directly and through its Solidus TNINvestco fund, is "back-stopping" fundraising for JumpStart programs in Oak Ridge and Memphis, Gatto said. The commitment for each market could be north of $200,000, the amount ultimately being determined by the degree to which Angel investors step-up to co-invest, he explained.
Commenting earlier on Chattanooga, Gatto explained it may be a month before he resolves whether or not to launch a Solidus-linked entity, there. There are several incubators in the Chattanooga region and leaders and entrepreneurs in the area are actively pursuing launch of an Angel fund, a general-business news site and other initiatives, according to VNC research. The Chattanooga Technology Council will host its annual technology transfer program in April, and an Angel forum and pitch session will be launched in coordination with that, according to a source.
The JumpStart website with a new skin and new content. The site contains a link for applying for admission to the JumpStart Foundry program. The Producteev software used for JumpStart applications is the same tool used by TechStars, VNC research shows.
In addition to JumpStart, the TechStars Network includes charter members in "dozens of cities," according to a TechStars release today that lists AlphaLab, Pittsburgh; Arizona State University Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative, Scottsdale; Betaspring, Providence, R.I.; Blueprint Health, New York, N.Y.; BoomStartup, Salt Lake City; Excelerate Labs, Chicago; Founders Co-op, Seattle; Incubate Miami; Joyful Frog Digital Incubator; Singapore; LaunchPad Ignition, New Orleans; Ryan Academy Propeller Seed Accelerator Program, Dublin, Ireland; Startupbootcamp, Copenhagen and Madrid; Tech Wildcatters, Dallas; The Brandery, Cincinnati; and, The Elevator, Tel Aviv, with applications for additional members being taken now.
Editor's note: Vic Gatto's father, Victor E. Gatto Jr., is an entrepreneur, investor and educator, and according to information online has previously also had business dealings with ORNL and lives in the Oak Ridge area, but is not participating in Gatto III's Venture Incite initiatives, according to an earlier interview with JumpStart's Gatto here.